Eben Vermaas, Jaco Engelbrecht, Pierre Blignaut and Kyle Blignaut 


The name Eben Vermaas has become synonymous with Shot Put and Discus Throw in South Africa, and for good reason. He is a passionate ASA level 3 coach, an athletics moderator, the founder of the South African Throwers Network and the co-founder of the Pierre Blignaut Shot Put and Discus Throw academy.

In grade 8 at Westvalia High School in Klerksdorp, Vermaas made a name for himself by winning the 400m, 800m and 1500m, finishing third in the 100m, 200m and Long Jump, and second in the Discus Throw at the school’s athletics competition. That same day the athletics bug bit. He went on to clock 51.09 in the 400m, 1:58.00 in the 800m and 4:10.44 in the 1500m while he was only 16, ultimately leading to him being included in the provincial athletics team. He never represented South Africa as an athlete, but that dream would realize as a coach. “When I started teaching at Florida High School in 2006, I immediately asked to be involved in coaching athletics and I was placed at the Shot Put and Discus Throw (might have been due to my physique” said Vermaas. “I was fortunate enough to meet my mentor and Co-Founder of the Pierre Blignaut Shot Put and Discus Academy.” This was probably one of the best decisions he had made. Under the guidance of Coach Pierre he flourished and five years later, in 2011, the Pierre Blignaut Shot Put and Discus Throw Academy was established. His coaching philosophy and creativity alongside Blignaut’s experience and knowledge make them a force to reckon with and the caliber of athletes in their program prove it. “I have co-coached the following athletes with Pierre: Leandri Geel (SA and African junior champion in Discus Throw), Ashley Nieuwenhuyzen (SA Junior athlete and medalist), Kayle Blignaut (SA and African junior champion in Shot Put), Werner Visser (SA, world youth champion, and Commonwealth Youth Games in Discuss Throw), Dane Roets (SA u/15 champion).”

Clearly this academy is a cut-above-the-rest, and Eben’s reasons coaching play a major role in this success story. “Besides for my own love for athletics and other sporting codes, I felt that I could reach children in a different way on the sports field than in the classroom.” “Nelson Mandela said: sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.” No wonder why, after completing his B.Com Honours Degree in Industrial Psychology, he also obtained a certificate in Sport Management to be able to relate to his athletes and the sport on a deeper level.

Apart from climbing the ranks as a coach, he also served as the vice-chairperson of the D12 district in Roodepoort, the general manager of Gauteng to various South African Schools Athletics (SASA) championships, and he currently holds the position of Head of Athletics at Kempton Park High School. Add to that his inclusion in the 2016 South African teams as Shot Put and Discus Throw coach to the Southern Regional Zone 5 Games and CAA African Junior championships, and you have the happiest man alive. But that is not all, he still has the Accelerada Academy, the Rice Force Foundation and the SA Throwers Network on his plate, but he loves it. “On Sundays, athletes as far as Bethal, Welkom, Kimberley and Nylstroom attend

our training sessions at Ruimsig. We have started Accelerada Academy and Rice Force Foundation to broaden our horizons to include all the events in athletics, and the aim is to place talented youngsters with qualified coaches” added the champion-coach. And just how reliable will these coach be? “I have set up a Whatsapp group called the ‘SA Throwers Network’ where throwers all over the country can ask for guidance from more experienced coaches, former athletes and athletes like Dup du Preez, Kaai Peller, Pierre Blignaut, Franz Kruger, Elizna Naude, Burger Lampbrecht and Chris Harmse.” Well, they already conducted their first talent identification clinic in Soweto this past weekend with more than a thousand students, and by the looks of it, Vermaas and co has paved the way…again.